Max Baucus Pushes 'Radioactive Compromise' on Health
The Washington Post has some details about where Baucus' “coalition of the willing” negotiations currently are, and it does not look good. I'm amazed that any politician would think what they are proposing is a good idea.
To start with, Baucus' plan reduces cost by simply leaving around 17 million Americans uninsured. Over a third of uninsured Americans would remain uninsured under his proposal. It would only extend coverage to 94 percent of Americans, compared to the House bill that would cover 97 percent of Americans. That is 9 million more uninsured.
To help pay for reform Baucus wants to squeeze money out of seniors on Medicare. His plan “would require wealthier seniors to pay more for prescription drug coverage under Medicare, and they would charge co-payments for clinical lab procedures.” Making seniors pay more for medication and lab tests seems like a very easy sell. (I'm sure that is going to sell so much better than taxing millionaires.)
The current state of negotiations would impose a 35% excise tax on insurance companies for providing insurance plans worth over $21,000 a year for a family. That would affect 7 percent of taxpayers' policies. That is around 20 million Americans who would very likely be getting less generous health care plans as a result.
Baucus' plan would also not include the extremely popular public option. His plan could easily be described as the anti-labor bill. It would impose a new tax on health insurance which would fall heavily on union members and would not provide them with a public option they strongly support. I would not be surprised if labor worked to kill reform instead of accepting what Baucus is offering.
The proposal has a “free-rider” penalty instead of an employer mandate. There are many who think it would be a nearly impossible bureaucratic nightmare to enforce. The “free-rider” provision is also strongly opposed by Wal-mart.
Let's have a quick summary of Baucus' plan. It would increase the price of drugs for some seniors, and make them pay billions in new lab test co-pays. It would impose a new tax on health care benefits. The tax would result in millions of Americans getting less generous health insurance (i.e. losing their current health care coverage). If passed, his bill would only reduce the number of uninsured Americans by less than 2/3rd leaving around 17 million still uninsured. The bill will piss off seniors, progressives, labor unions, and millions of people with good health insurance. Have fun selling that to the American people.